Stars-Flames Preview

The Dallas Stars have plenty of work in front of them over the

next two weeks if they’re going to clinch their first playoff berth

in four years, but the club feels good as it hits the road.

The Calgary Flames’ confidence is shaky as they return home for

this critical stretch.

Dallas will try to sweep this home-and-home set and the season

series Monday night when the low-scoring Flames look to avoid their

first six-game losing streak in more than two years.

Since a 10-0-1 surge gave them a four-point edge atop the

Pacific Division, the Stars (41-29-5) have dropped three of five

and are locked in a tight battle with Phoenix, Los Angeles and San

Jose for the title and the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference


If Dallas doesn’t win that race, it will still have to make some

noise away from home in order to reach the postseason for the first

time since 2008. Beginning with this four-game trip, the Stars are

on the road for five of their final seven.

“Sometimes it’s easier to get on the road this time of the year

and just kind of let loose for a road swing and just kind of put

pressure on other teams in their buildings that have to win games,”

coach Glen Gulutzan told the Stars’ official website following

Saturday’s 4-1 win over Calgary. “So I think the road trip comes at

a good time for us because our game isn’t quite where it should be

and we can get away and get it to where it needs to be.”

The Flames’ game is nowhere close to where it needs to be as

they open a three-game homestand. Since winning a season-best five

straight, Calgary (34-27-15) has scored six total goals during its

0-2-3 skid to drop to 11th in the West – three points behind a trio

of teams tied for eighth.

“We realize out of six games (left), we most likely have to win

them all,” said captain Jarome Iginla, who is looking for his first

point in six games. “Our chances are slim. We most likely have to

run the table. But we won’t give up.”

The Flames’ last skid of at least six games was an 0-6-3 stretch

Jan. 11-28, 2010.

Calgary has dropped all three games versus Dallas in 2011-12,

including a 3-2 shootout loss March 4 at the Scotiabank


The Flames have taken at least one point from 11 of 13 at home,

but extending that trend against the Stars could be a tall task if

Kari Lehtonen is between the pipes again.

Lehtonen’s 35-save effort Saturday improved him to 10-2-1 with a

1.65 goals-against average in his last 13 starts.

“Their goaltender definitely was first star tonight,” Flames

coach Brent Sutter said of Lehtonen, who has a 1.60 GAA while

starting each game against Calgary this season.

Finnish countryman Miikka Kiprusoff, who turned aside 16 of 19

shots Saturday, is 7-2-4 with a 2.44 GAA while starting each of

Calgary’s last 13 home games. He made 38 saves through overtime

March 4 before Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson beat him in the


Benn netted his first two regulation goals against Calgary this

season Saturday, while Michael Ryder (team-high 33rd) and captain

Brenden Morrow (empty-netter) also scored.

Dallas’ Mike Ribeiro has team highs with three assists and four

points versus Calgary this season after setting up Ryder’s

first-period goal.

Michael Cammalleri, who scored Saturday in his first game after

missing nine with an upper-body injury, leads the Flames with three

points in this series in 2011-12.

The Stars could get a boost on this trip from forward Reilly

Smith, who signed a three-year contract this weekend after his

Miami (Ohio) team was eliminated from the NCAA tournament.